The improved M72 LAW is derived from the basic 66mm man-portable, lightweight, direct fire predecessor. The enhanced launcher is a telescoping structure with rifle sights and rubber bumpers incorporated into the carry sling.
The rocket consists of an improved rocket motor that is capable of carrying various types of warheads to their intended target with high velocity (approx. 650 feet per second) depending upon the version of the LAW. Soldiers can accurately engage targets up to 250 meters away.
The M72 was designed in the early 1960's for use against light tanks of that era. More recent and improved versions of the M72-series LAWs were produced in the 1990s and include the M72A4, M72A5, M72A6, and M72A7.
Although the M72 is mainly used as an anti-armor weapon, it may be used with limited success against secondary targets such as gun emplacements, pillboxes, buildings, or light vehicles.
The M72 replaced the anti-tank rifle grenade and M20 3.5-inch rocket launcher in U.S. service.
According to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Lessons Learned from March 2010, “The M72s provided the best balance of weight and bulk to combat effectiveness. It was considered an excellent munition to be used against insurgents firing from close and medium range. It was fast and easy to bring into operation, and it was considered to be both a good suppressive weapon and quite accurate and lethal at the same time.”